|Also known as||
|Created by||Liz Tigelaar|
|Creative director(s)||Gary Fleder|
|Opening theme||"Beautiful Tree" by Rain Perry|
Pieter A. Schlosser
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (list of episodes)|
|Location(s)||Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada|
|Running time||42 minutes|
Best Day Ever Productions|
CBS Television Studios
Warner Bros. Television
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Original channel||The CW|
|Original release||January 18, 2010– January 18, 2011|
Life Unexpected is an American drama television series that aired for two seasons from 2010 to 2011. It was produced by Best Day Ever Productions and Mojo Films in association with CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television and broadcast by The CW. Created by Liz Tigelaar, who served as an executive producer with Gary Fleder and Janet Leahy, the series starred Britt Robertson, Shiri Appleby, Kristoffer Polaha, and Kerr Smith.
Set in Portland, the story follows Lux Cassidy, a teenager who was given up at birth and has spent her life in foster care who finds her biological parents Nate Bazile and Cate Cassidy. Wishing to become emancipated, Lux is instead given in to their custody.
While Life Unexpected received mostly positive reviews, it struggled in the ratings and was cancelled by The CW in 2011. The show has since been released on DVD and it is also available on Netflix.com through their streaming service.
Teenager Lux (Britt Robertson) had been through the foster care system for almost her whole life. Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby) had given birth to her while still a teen but, upon the advice of her mother, gave her up for adoption after being promised by Social Services that the baby would find a wonderful home. Due to heart problems as a baby (she had atrial septal disorder), and countless surgeries, she was not even available for adoption until after the age of three. Most likely because of those issues, Lux was never adopted.
On her 16th birthday, she decides that it's time for her to become an emancipated minor, but before that occurs, she has to get signatures from her unknown birth parents. First she encounters former high-school football quarterback, Nathaniel "Baze" Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha), her birth father and operator of the Open Bar, a business he operates out of a building given to him by his father.
Baze lives a semi-fraternity boy lifestyle above the drinking establishment with two roommates, Math (Austin Basis), a high school teacher and Baze's childhood best friend, and Jamie (Reggie Austin), who also works at the bar. However, even when he signs the papers, Baze discovers that he is already bonding with his newfound daughter, and realizes that she has his eyes. He introduces Lux to her mother Cate, co-host of the "Morning Madness" drive time show at Portland radio station K-100 and Baze's former one-night stand from high school. Lux has been listening to Cate's voice on the radio as long as she can remember, so she feels an instant connection with the mom she's never met. Baze takes Lux to meet Cate, who is shocked and saddened to learn that Lux has grown up in foster care instead of the adoption she believed would take place and is reluctant to commit to her daughter. Eventually, Cate wants to be a part of Lux's life, and she shows that she really does care.
When a judge decides that Lux isn't ready for emancipation and unexpectedly grants temporary joint custody to Baze and Cate, they agree to try to get past the awkwardness. Cate, due to her job as a radio host, and the fact that she has a suitable house, is given primary custody of Lux. Ryan Thomas (Kerr Smith), her radio broadcast partner, as well as her fiance, also takes to Lux and has bonded with her as well, sometimes being able to get through to her better than her parents, due to similar issues that they have had.
As the series progresses, though, Baze becomes more responsible, and works harder to get the bar and the loft apartment above it in shape so that Lux can be able to visit and stay with him. He eventually succeeds in this by setting aside a corner of his loft as a bedroom for Lux. Due to their close bond, Baze, the one that was considered to perhaps be more of a slacker, had proven that when the chips are down, he inevitably comes through for Lux, giving her support and love. Cate, despite her constantly disappointing Lux, still means well. Her radio show is produced by Alice (Erin Karpluk), who often serves as her confidante.
Ryan, in some ways jealous and insecure because of Baze's constant presence in his fiancee's life, gets resentful and has physically fought Baze. Ryan, finally fed up with Baze's continual interference, breaks it off with Cate. Eventually though, Ryan and Cate reconnect, and their engagement is back on. He also relents a bit towards Baze after the two have drinks and Baze explains that all he is to Cate is the father of Lux, and nothing else. By the series end, though, Baze and Ryan are good friends.
Baze's bar is owned by his father Jack (Robin Thomas), who considers Baze a disappointment but softens towards him somewhat in later episodes, due to Lux's entrance in their lives. Baze himself later buys the bar. Also seen is Cate's four-times-divorced mother, Laverne (Cynthia Stevenson), whose idea it was to convince Cate into giving up Lux; and Baze's level headed and more understanding mother, Ellen (Susan Hogan). Both women meet Lux, and both of them love her, although Ellen seems to have the stronger grandmotherly bond with her.
After attending Longfellow High, a rough high school in Portland, Cate registers Lux at Westmonte High, the school she, Baze and Math all attended (and where Math himself works as a teacher), this development, at first, infuriated Lux; but she adapts, makes friends and meets her later boyfriend, popular football player, Jones Mager (Austin Butler) who, like her father, was also the quarterback.
Lux has several friends from her old life, including her childhood best friend Natasha Siviac (Ksenia Solo), whom she had known since she was seven (they had met at Sunnyvale, the foster care home); Lux's first boyfriend Bug Guthrie (Rafi Gavron), and Tasha's boyfriend Gavin (Rhys Williams). She must decide whether she can continue to have her old friends in her life as she attempts new friendships. Sometimes, Bug is known for doing things which brings him in trouble with the law, and that sometimes imperils Lux's life with Baze and Cate. Her case is handled by her long time social worker, Fern Redmund (Lucia Walters), who is also instrumental in helping Cate and Baze get their parental rights reinstated, which does happen, and they become a family, officially. Due to this, Fern becomes a family friend.
Baze, at variant times, incurs Cate's wrath when it is discovered that he is sleeping with her younger sister and Lux's aunt, Abby (Alex Breckenridge), who is a neurotic therapist and practitioner of yoga. Baze also slept with Ryan's sister Paige (Arielle Kebbel) after a drunk incident in season two. Lux meets a young man at Baze's bar, Eric Daniels (Shaun Sipos), and goes on a date with him, only to later find out he is her new teacher.
The second season deals with Lux's affair with her teacher, which was ended when Eric left town on Cate and Baze's orders that they would call the police if he didn't resign his job and leave Portland; Cate and Ryan's new marriage and their attempts to have a child, and Baze's relationship with his coworker Emma Bradshaw (Emma Caulfield) and her son, Sam.
Later on, Natasha (who lives on her own now, due to independent living) becomes more of a part of the family's life (Bug and Gavin both are no longer seen, Bug having left town after Lux turning down his engagement) and is often seen with her best friend Lux.
Cate miscarried her child with Ryan because of some condition that she developed after having Lux and that, due to the condition, Lux would be the only child she would ever have. This news created a stronger bond between Cate and Lux, and Lux finally realizes that her mom loves her and won't let any harm come to her. After nearly giving in to his desire for her, Baze breaks it off with Emma in the wake of learning from Lux that Emma had had an affair with his dad; Not when he was going out with her, but his dad cheated on his mother. Baze stated that he could never be with Emma without thinking of his father.
The show then fast-forwards two years at which point Lux is delivering the commencement speech at her graduation. It is revealed that Ryan and Julia are together and have a young son from their affair. And, of course, Baze and Cate are finally together as a couple, kissing to reveal it. Lux also kisses Jones, revealing that they end up together and Tasha is happy for them. The family and friends take a photo with their functional happy families.
- Britt Robertson as Lux Cassidy
- Shiri Appleby as Cate Cassidy
- Kristoffer Polaha as Nathaniel "Baze" Bazile
- Kerr Smith as Ryan Thomas
- Austin Basis as Matthew "Math" Rogers
- Lucia Walters as Fern Redmund
- Austin Butler as Jones Mager
- Ksenia Solo as Natasha Siviac
- Erin Karpluk as Alice
- Emma Caulfield as Emma Bradshaw
- Rafi Gavron as Bobby "Bug" Guthrie
- Shaun Sipos as Eric Daniels
- Landon Liboiron as Sam
- Reggie Austin as Jamie
Creator Liz Tigelaar came up with the idea for the show in 2007 and developed it with director Gary Fleder. Tigelaar and Fleder pitched the show, then titled Light Years, to ABC Studios who accepted it. They then sold the show to The CW. In September 2008, The CW ordered the show to pilot. After the pilot was ordered, ABC then dropped the show for financial reasons. The show was then picked up by CBS Television Studios. The pilot was filmed in January 2009, being written by Tigelaar and directed by Fleder. Both also served as executive producers.
The CW announced the series in January 2009 under the working title of Light Years because the main character Lux's name means Light. According to Tigelaar, the title "tested way too sci-fi" and it was changed to LUX (the name of one of the lead characters) in April. This was quickly changed again into Life Unexpected, but at The CW Upfronts in May, the series was promoted as Parental Discretion Advised. That June, the network reverted to the name Life UneXpected, again highlighting the name of the main character in capital letters. Initial advertising for the series in fall 2009 listed it without the capitalized "X", which became the final version as it appears now.
While the show is set in Portland, Oregon, most of the filming is done in Vancouver, British Columbia. Scenes of Westmonte High are filmed at Sutherland Secondary School in North Vancouver and H. J. Cambie Secondary School in Richmond, British Columbia. The exterior of Baze's bar is located on Granville Island and the Ironworks Building in Vancouver. North Shore Studios, formally Lionsgate, was used as the primary studio for season one while Coast Mountain Film Studios housed the show for the second and final season.
The show premiered on The CW on Monday, January 18, 2010. The 13-episode first season run ended on April 12, 2010. The series was picked up for a second season, for an initial thirteen episode order, which premiered on September 14, 2010, airing on Tuesdays at 9/8c following One Tree Hill.
In October 2010, The CW ordered two additional scripts. In November 2010 The CW declined to order the back 9 episodes for the show's second and final season, leaving the season's episode count at 13. Members of the cast campaigned to save the show. On December 6, 2010, series creator, Liz Tigelaar made the TV show's cancellation official via Twitter.
One Tree Hill crossover
In an attempt to improve Life Unexpected's ratings by attracting One Tree Hill viewers, The CW aired a crossover event involving both programs on October 12, 2010. Beginning with One Tree Hill installment "Nobody Taught Us to Quit", Haley James Scott (Bethany Joy Lenz) and Mia Catalano (Kate Voegele) traveled to Portland (where Life Unexpected is set) to perform at the Sugar Magnolia Music Festival hosted by K-100. Haley and Cate meet in the crossover and are "surprised to learn that they share a similar back story [as] mothers." "Music Faced," the Life Unexpected episode of the crossover, also featured Sarah McLachlan, Ben Lee and Rain Perry whose song "Beautiful Tree" serves as the series' opening theme.
The first season of Life Unexpected scored a 69 out of 100 on Metacritic. The series has garnered mostly positive feedback, with many reviews favorably comparing the show to the critically acclaimed series Gilmore Girls and Everwood. Maureen Ryan, from the Chicago Tribune, stated that the show "recall[s] the good things about shows like Gilmore Girls and Everwood," and similarly, Hank Stuever from The Washington Post called it "a pleasant mix of a little Juno hipitude and a lot of Everwood glow." Furthermore, the Chicago Tribune review called Life Unexpected a program "that parents and their older kids could enjoy together without feeling condescended to," and The Boston Globe's Matthew Gilbert states that "the show works, in its own hokey, feel-good, alt-soundtrack way."
Show writer Liz Tigelaar (who has also worked on Brothers & Sisters, American Dreams, and Once and Again), has received much praise. A review in the Los Angeles Times called Tigelaar's writing smart and insightful. Similarly, Randee Dawn, from The Hollywood Reporter stated that Tigelaar "has a delicate, spot-on feel for dialogue." The Futon Critic's Brian Ford Sullivan singled out writer Liz Tigelaar and director Gary Fleder for adeptly exploring Lux's perceived lack of love in her life.
On a negative note, a review in the Chicago Sun Times by Paige Wiser called the show "somewhat predictable" and The Post's Stuever adds that Life Unexpected "burns off its most interesting plot twist [...] in the first 20 minutes."
Home media releases
In April 2011, a DVD for the show was released which contained both seasons.
Awards and nominations
|2010||Nominated||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV Breakout Show||Life Unexpected|
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||DVD release dates|
|Season premiere||Season finale||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|1||13||January 18, 2010||April 12, 2010||April 5, 2011||N/A||2012|
|2||13||September 14, 2010||January 18, 2011||N/A|
Season 1: 2010
|No.||#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|| U.S. viewers
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Season 2: 2010-2011
The series was renewed by The CW for a second and final season on May 20, 2010. It was also moved to Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m.
|No.||#||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|| U.S. viewers|
U.S. Nielsen ratings
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||# Ep.||Original Airing||Rank||Viewers
|Season Premiere||Season Finale||TV Season|
|1|| Monday 9:00PM
|13||January 18, 2010||April 12, 2010||2009–2010||#136||2.01||The CW|
|2||Tuesday 9:00PM||13||September 14, 2010||January 18, 2011||2010–2011||#140||1.50|
- "Interview with Liz Tigelaar". The CW 69. 8 January 2013. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
- Reynolds, Simon (25 September 2008). "'Light Years' pilot lands at The CW". Digital Spy. Retrieved July 13, 2013.
- Andreeva, Nellie (3 January 2011). "'Life Unexpected' Creator Signs Overall Deal With ABC Studios". deadline.com. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- Andreeva, Nellie (January 12, 2009). "Meet the CW's young parents". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- "Today’s TV Addict Top 5: Things you didn’t know about LIFE UNEXPECTED". The TV Addict. January 25, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Lafayette, Jon (May 2009). "CW Upfront: 'Melrose Place,' 'Vampire Diaries' on Tap". Television Week (TVweek.com). Crain Communications. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- "The CW Announces Schedule for 2009–2010 Season". Los Angeles Times. May 21, 2009. Archived from the original on January 23, 2010. Retrieved January 23, 2010.
- Gelman, Vlada (January 18, 2010). "'Life Unexpected': Kristoffer Polaha previews the CW's new drama". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Horton, Kelly Jo (October 23, 2009). "Scene in Portland: CW Series Life UneXpected Shooting in Portland". The Portlander. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Hibberd, James (May 18, 2010). "CW picks up 'Nikita,' 'Hellcats,' 'Life,' 'OTH'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
- "Top Model, Hellcats to Kick off CW's New Season". TVGuide.com.
- Ausiello, Michael (14 October 2010). "Scoop: The CW orders more 'Life Unexpected'". ew.com. Retrieved July 7, 2013.
- Seidman, Robert (November 2, 2010). "There Will Be No Back Order for Life Unexpected". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Armstrong, Jennifer (15 October 2010). "'Life Unexpected' cast campaigns to save their own show: Does it make you want to watch?". ew.com. Retrieved July 1, 2013.
- Gorman, Bill (November 9, 2010). "CW: Game Over For Life Unexpected". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- dos Santos, Kristin (November 3, 2010). "Life Unexpected Canceled? What About Parenthood?". E!. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- "Exclusive: The CW plotting 'One Tree Hill'/'Life Unexpected' crossover event!". Retrieved February 21, 2014.
- "Life Unexpected - Season 1 Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
- Hale, Mike (January 17, 2010). "Wise Teenager, Unpromising Parents". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Wiser, Paige (January 17, 2010). "TV REVIEW: 'Erica,' 'Life' offer hope of turnaround". Chicago Sun Times (Sun-Times Media). Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Ryan, Maureen (January 18, 2010). "Sweet 'Life Unexpected' may fill that 'Gilmore Girls'/'Everwood' gap". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Stuever, Hank (January 18, 2010). "Hank Stuever on MTV's 'Buried Life' & CW's 'Life Unexpected'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- McNamara, Mary (January 18, 2010). "Surprise, 'Life Unexpected' is pretty sweet". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Gilbert, Matthew (January 18, 2010). "An ‘Unexpected’ take on family". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Tucker, Ken (August 4, 2009). "'Life Unexpected': Remember this TV show's name, and watch for it". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Dawn, Randee (January 13, 2010). "Life Unexpected – TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Nielsen Business Media. Archived from the original on January 20, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
- Ford Sullivan, Brian (June 29, 2009). "The Futon's First Look: 'Life Unexpected'". The Futon Critic.
- Lambert, David (March 31, 2011). "Life Unexpected - Official Studio Press Release for Next Tuesday's 'Complete 1st & 2nd Seasons'". tvshowsondvd.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- Gorman, Bill (May 20, 2010). "The CW Announces 2010-11 Schedule". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved November 15, 2011.
- Gorman, Bill (June 16, 2010). "Final 2009-10 Broadcast Primetime Show Average Viewership". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 18, 2010.
- Andreeva, Nellie (May 27, 2011). "Full 2010-2011 TV Season Series Rankings". Deadline.com. Retrieved February 23, 2013.